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How Much Ibuprofen Can I Take Safely?

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Have you been tempted to increase your dose of Ibuprofen to swiftly stop your pain? Or perhaps you accidentally took more than one ibuprofen tablet and are wondering how much harm you have caused yourself? If you're wondering how much ibuprofen is too much, this article is for you. By the time you finished reading it, you'll feel more confident to act appropriately the next time a similar circumstance arises.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for its analgesic (pain reduction), antipyretic (fever-relieving), and anti-inflammatory properties. Advil is its common brand name. Ibuprofen is effective and safe for both adults and children. It is available in a variety of dosage strengths and dosage forms, including soft gels, tablets, chewable tablets, caplets, and suspensions. Additionally, you can get ibuprofen as either a single formulation or co-formulated with other medications like acetaminophen, and cold and allergy remedies.

What are the indications of Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is indicated for mild to moderate pain. It is prescribed for ailments like headaches, toothaches, period discomfort, sprains, and strains. Additionally, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is used for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Also, it is used to treat fever since it has effective antipyretic properties.

Ibuprofen is safe for both children and adults, although extra caution should be taken in pregnant women and infants under six months of age as their metabolisms may differ from healthy adults. Ask your healthcare professional if it is safe for you.

What are the available dosage forms and strengths of ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is offered in several dosages and strength forms. There are chewable tablets (100mg), oral suspension (100mg/5ml), infant oral suspension (50mg/1.25ml) and tablets (100mg, 200mg, 400mg, 600mg and 800mg). Ibuprofen in lower strengths is sold over-the-counter (OTC), but the higher strengths (400 mg, 600 mg, and 800 mg) can only be obtained with a prescription.

Ibuprofen dosages: what is considered safe?

OTC ibuprofen can be used orally as needed every 4-6 hours; not to exceed 1,200 mg daily. Also, the prescription-only strength, 600mg – 800mg, can be used every 6-8 hours; not to exceed 3,200 mg daily.

The safe dose for children varies according to their body weight. For a safe dose for your child, ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Can I Take 600mg or 800mg Ibuprofen Every 4-6 hours?

The prescription-only strength of Ibuprofen should be taken every 6-8 hours and not exceed 3,200mg daily.

If I'm Prescribed an 800mg Dose of Ibuprofen, can I cut it in half and take it every 4-6 hours?

No. Doing this means you are taking less than the prescribed single dose. For instance, your prescription is a single dose of 800mg, but you are taking about 400mg.

Is it Safe to Cut 800mg Ibuprofen in half if I am Prescribed 400mg?

It is safe depending on the nature of the tablet except that you may not get equal half. Contrarily, it is not safe to cut a coated tablet as it can irritate your stomach. Also, it is not safe to cut an extended released coated tablet.

Is taking three ibuprofen tablets at once too much?

The answer depends on the strength of the particular ibuprofen tablet. You can, for instance, safely take three 100mg tablets at once. That equates to a single dose of 300 mg, which is still within the 200–400 mg range for over-the-counter strength. On the other hand, you cannot take three 200mg pills at once since the resulting 600mg single dose is greater than the recommended single dose for OTC.

Additionally, you cannot simultaneously take three 600 mg and three 800 mg tablets. Even though three pills of 800 mg total 2400 mg, which is less than the daily maximum dose of prescription-only ibuprofen, it exceeds the recommended single dose. Overdosing (both daily and single) increases the danger of its both short- and long-term effects. Don't take multiple tablets of high strength at once.

Instead of increasing the single dose when the condition is severe, you can safely use ibuprofen more frequently, but you must never go above the daily or single dose limits for each administration.

Can I take ibuprofen with other painkillers?

Yes, you can mix ibuprofen with other painkillers like acetaminophen, but you should avoid mixing ibuprofen with other NSAIDs like diclofenac, ketorolac, naproxen, etc. unless your doctor specifically instructs you to do so for a particular indication. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs increase the potential for adverse effects.

What are the harmful effects of ibuprofen overdose?

Ibuprofen overdoses increase the risk of renal damage, heart failure, heart disease, stroke, and gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, bleeding, stomach perforation, and intestinal perforation.

The complications of ibuprofen overdose can be mild or life-threatening. They include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Convulsions
  • Hypotension
  • Coma

Can my other medications interact with Ibuprofen?

Yes, ibuprofen can interact with other drugs you are taking for a co-morbidity. The following drugs can have a harmful interaction with ibuprofen:

The list is not exhaustive. Always talk to your healthcare provider about other drugs you are using.

What if I miss my dose of ibuprofen?

Take your medication as soon as you remember if you forget to take it. But if it's almost time for your next dose, omit the missed one. Don't take a double dose to make up for the missing dose.

What to do if I overdosed on ibuprofen?

If you accidentally take an overdose on ibuprofen, contact your doctor as soon as you can. Be on the lookout for these adverse effects: tinnitus, drowsiness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and nausea. If you experience them, call 911.

How Much Does Ibuprofen Cost?

Ibuprofen can cost up to $31 depending on the type of pill, the brand, dosage, quantity, and where you buy it. But do you have to pay that much when you can save up to 88% on your medications with a free rxless discount coupon? The coupon is acceptable in over 70,000 pharmacies including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aids.